Written by 15:34 World

France’s Campaign Season Was Marred by Racist Attacks and Violent Acts

The French election campaign was swift and tense. It was also marred by racist episodes and acts of violence.

The far-right National Rally has railed against immigration, which its leader, Marine Le Pen, has said has diluted what it means to be French. The left-wing coalition, which appeared to have captured the most parliamentary seats, according to projections released Sunday, includes the firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has been accused of fanning antisemitism.

Gérald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said on Friday that more than 50 people — including candidates, their substitutes or supporters — had been “physically assaulted” during the campaign. One of them was Prisca Thevenot, the government spokeswoman, who was putting up campaign posters in her constituency just outside Paris.

Stories of racist attacks have circulated widely online and in the media.

One television news program filmed a couple who supported the National Rally hurling insults at a Black neighbor, telling her to “go to the doghouse.”

A television host of North African descent revealed a racist letter he had received at his home. A bakery in Avignon was set on fire and covered in homophobic and racist tags.

Since the snap election campaign began last month, Fatma Bouvet de la Maisonneuve, a psychiatrist who has a practice in the Parisian suburb of Montrouge, said she had been overwhelmed by new clients, with as many as two calling a day and some even arriving unannounced to her office.

“These are people who are very scared,” said Ms. Bouvet de la Maisonneuve, whose practice specializes in the effects of racism on mental health. “They are scared for their children. They are worried about being attacked.”

She said that her clients with dual citizenship were frightened by the policies of the far-right National Rally. The party has announced that, if elected, it would limit people with dual passports from holding positions considered sensitive, like running the secret service or a power plant. (The early projections on Sunday indicated that the National Rally would fall short of expectations.)

“They are fearful for their jobs,” said Ms. Bouvet de la Maisonneuve, who is French Tunisian. “The civil servants are very scared that the law will be hardened and applied across the spectrum.”

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Last modified: 8 July 2024
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